NAACP Abandons Class Action Bid in Eli Lilly Case; Plaintiffs Proceed Individually

Last Updated Sep 18, 2009 5:29 PM EDT

The NAACP has withdrawn its application for class-action status for a race discrimination lawsuit against Eli Lilly. Instead, the suit -- which claims that some black employees encountered hangmen's nooses while on the job -- will proceed with a set of multiple plaintiffs. The move came in a Sept. 3 teleconference between the parties and the judge. The NAACP now intends to file a third amended complaint on behalf of dozens of current and former employees in the suit, who include factory, lab and sales workers.

The suit claims that black employees were "coached out" of the company, and less likely to be promoted. Lilly has 21,000 employees, the suit says, of which 7.5 percent are black. That's a lower percentage than in 2002, when 8.6 percent were black. About 1,000 employees are affected by the suit, the NAACP claims.

If you read Lilly employees' debate about the suit on Cafe Pharma, you'd think there was some kind of race war going on inside the company.

In the suit, three employees describe encountering hangmen's nooses in the workplace. Lead plaintiff Cassandra Welch found a doll on her desk with a rope around its neck, she claims:

(Click to enlarge.) Lilly denies the complaint.